Eighteen years ago in 1992, Jesuit’s enrollment totaled 736 students, the science wing did not exist, nor did the new hallway of classrooms past teacher offices. The football and baseball fields showed extreme signs of wear as patches of yellowish brown dead grass covered them, artificial turf was not even a consideration. A large, stage production auditorium occupied the now student commons area and counseling offices. Then Rev. Philip S. Postell, S.J. joined the campus, and all of that soon changed.
In Postell’s tenure as Jesuit President, which will conclude at nineteen years at the end of the school year, he built so much of the school, both literally and figuratively. Responsible for all of the construction projects that have redesigned the school’s look over the years, Postell built the new science wing, added the classrooms near Inwood road, reconstructed the dugout and batting practice areas of the baseball field, brought an artificial turf to both the baseball and football fields, and, most recently, completely redesigned the football stadium, bringing it into the 21st century with a modern field house, aluminum stadium seating, and an advanced press-box.
Also, Postell has announced plans to build a new locker room annex for the school, including coaches’ offices and weight room, in one large, three-story building that will resemble the Terry Center.
During his time as President, the school’s enrollment increased from 736 to more than 1,000, need-based financial aid doubled to more than $1.2 million last year, and the school’s Community Service and Social Justice program has become the largest and most comprehensive high school community service program in the state.
More than the physical additions he brought to the school, Postell brought his commitment to Ignatian education, his wisdom, his steady guiding-hand, his fantastic sense of humor, his friendship, and most of all, his role as a model to the students of Jesuit.
Recently announced, Father Postell, who will be leaving the Dallas Jesuit community and stepping down as President, will hand off his job this summer to Mr. Michael Earsing, current Principal of the school. Father Postell will be sorely missed, as Earsing describes, the one thing he is not looking forward to about assuming the job of President is “not having Father Postell.” During their time together, Earsing got to know Postell as his “boss, as a colleague and as a friend” having known him for over thirty years.
Congratulations to Mr. Earsing for receiving such an honor, and although following a President who is deeply loved by the community and who did so much for the school, Earsing assures that it is a “good problem to have. We talk about being on the shoulders of giants, and that’s how I feel,” Earsing reflected, stating that because of Father Postell’s leadership, the school is in a good position to “continue to do an effective job at carrying out the mission” and that is his job to do as President.
Reflecting on the previous eighteen years, Mr. Earsing agrees that a lot of change has come to the school, although the students remain the same. While the biggest question for a Jesuit student eighteen years ago–as well as a student today–might have been getting a date for homecoming , new technology has changed the advancement of education tremendously. As Mr. Earsing says, “Most guys don’t know what a typewriter is anymore, ” and the only computer policy eighteen years ago might have been “don’t forget to turn it off” or “light the candle in the monitor.” As President, it is his job to keep up with the growth of education and continue to establish Jesuit as a premier institution of secondary learning.
One thing Earsing hopes his new job will significantly change is his interactions with the students. He hopes that the new position will give him more time to connect with the students than did his job as Principal.
“I’m looking forward to the excitement of being in charge of the mission of the school,” said Mr. Earsing, and there is no doubt that he will serve excellently in that role. The scope of the job of President is different than Principal, Mr. Earsing says. “The buck stops with the President.”
Father Postell looks forward to going through one year without a freshman asking him “What do you do here?” which he laughingly admits is very “humbling.” “I have no idea what I am going to do, as of yet,” says Postell. “I would like to say that I am giving up everything and turning it all over to Mr. Earsing, and that I am going sailing and fishing over the next six months,” but he insists that there are still many projects that must be completed before he leaves.
Asked what he will miss most upon leaving, Postell replied “students.” “I have always enjoyed the chance to talk to our kids and get a fresh reaction. They are really an innocent group as kids go, and I am going to miss that.”
As both men move on or move forward, they carry with them the great memories they shared here at Jesuit. “There have been a couple of Ranger Days that were real celebrations of community, where boys stopped being self-conscious and got into the whole thing of celebrating and working for their class and looking at chariots,” said Father Postell. “Those were really enjoyable.”
For Mr. Earsing, “almost every day is a high point. I love what I do, and that’s working with the guys.” He mentioned one particular day when he was walking down the hall and “ran into a student who was just sort of smiling, and I asked, ‘What’s up?’ and he said, ‘I love this place’ and that’s a sentiment of the guys here, which makes it all worthwhile.”
“It was a blessing to have been able to have Father Postell here and I look forward to working with him in the future,” says Mr. Earsing. As he begins his new role as President of the school, he will certainly continue to look to Father Postell for guidance and wisdom, and the entire community will miss Postell’s presence.
“My hope is that this school will continue to work on growth. We have a temptation in Dallas to connect growth with quantity and buildings, but the real growth is growth in morality, growth in spirituality, growth in conscience, and growth in community. I don’t know how you quantify those, but those are the serious things that really are telling in the formation of a young man. While I personally get distracted by square feet, cubic feet, bigger lockers, and the size of the scoreboard, deep down I think what is important is growth in the bodies and psyches of young people. I hope we keep doing that,” said Father Postell. Surely his impact on the school will be felt long after he has gone, but we look forward to a promising new time in Jesuit history with Mr. Mike Earsing leading the way.
Photography by Jack White ’13